Mullan Community Rallies Together - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

TRAPPED MINER: One Week Later The Rescue Efforts Continue

Community vigil in Mullan, ID for missing miner Larry Marek Community vigil in Mullan, ID for missing miner Larry Marek
Community vigil in Mullan, ID for missing miner Larry Marek Community vigil in Mullan, ID for missing miner Larry Marek

UPDATE FROM THE HECLA MINING COMPANY: Rescue efforts continue and the crew has advanced a total of 163 feet in the 220-foot drift north of the 15 stope. Crews have been working on this drift since April 18th.

Crews have been progressing safely and quickly. However as the crew advances closer to the location of the 15 stope, the work involved will become much more difficult, time consuming with new materials, equipment and supplies in order to advance the drift (tunnel) into potentially unstable ground.

Crews will be using a technique called spiling in which steel support members are placed over the timber or steel sets that are used in a drift (tunnel). This forms an umbrella of supported ground under which timber or steel sets can be safely installed to advance the drift.

In order to prevent interference with stability monitoring in the 15 stope, we will not start the 182-foot drift.

Drilling commenced on two additional holes yesterday in close proximity to the first 180-foot drill hole. The second drill hole is 2-inches in diameter and will be 185 feet long. We have advanced a total of 110 feet on this drill hole. The third 3-inch diameter drill hole reached the area above the 15 stope which will assess the ground conditions in advance of the rescue team reaching the face with the 220-foot drift.

We continue to introduce fresh air and water into the 15 stope through the existing drill holes. We also continue to survey the drill core (rock material) in order to determine the location, size of the void area and conditions inside the stope.

We have secured additional cameras from external sources which we have deployed into the completed drill holes to assess the open areas in the 15 stope.

In addition, a pump was acquired from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and arrived at the mine yesterday. We have deployed the pump underground to test the air quality of the 15 stope before rescue crews enter the area. We expect the air quality inside the stope to be normal.

Hecla will provide the next rescue update on April 23nd at approximately 2:00 pm Pacific Time.

MULLAN, Idaho (AP) - Rescuers have blasted 111 feet of tunnel into an Idaho mountainside in their bid to find a 53-year-old silver miner who may be trapped in a cave-in.

They still have 110 feet to go before they reach the area where they hope Larry Marek will be found. The collapse happened last Friday.

Hecla Mining Co. said in a statement that workers continue to introduce fresh food and water into separate bore holes. They have yet to see Marek with cameras they've inserted into the void deep within the earth.

They say they're completely focused on a rescue as they survey the size and condition of the void.

Marek and his brother were watering down freshly blasted rock last Friday afternoon when the tunnel they were in collapsed.

Marek's brother escaped.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

MULLAN, Idaho - The rescue effort for a silver miner trapped a mile underground in the Lucky Friday mine in Mullan, Idaho enters its seventh night without any sign of Larry Marek. Thursday, rescue crews dug out a total of 101 feet into the tunnel they're building to reach Marek called a rescue drift. They are about half-way to reaching him with 119 more feet to go.

Crews have been working on this drift since Monday.

Hecla spokesperson Melanie Hennessey said they plan on digging a second drift that will go down 182 feet but are waiting to start that one to make sure the ground remains stable.

Hennessey described how digging the drift is a very time-consuming process because miners have to blast the rock with a jumbo drill, remove the earth with a mucker, and then support the newly exposed ground.

In the meantime, crews are also continuing to drill holes into the ground to study the conditions inside the area they believe Marek is trapped. Rescuers have used one of the drill holes to funnel a camera to see inside the mine but, so far, they haven't had any contact with Marek.

All of the drill holes pump fresh air but Hennessey could not confirm if fresh water was also going inside the mine. As of Thursday, a third drill hole had gone down 155 feet and workers only had about another 30 feet to go until they reached the open space.

To get a better understanding of the underground tunnels, KHQ obtained video of the Lucky Friday mine from the History Channel's Modern Marvels that originally aired in 2006. Graphics show just how monstrous the mine is.

On the video, a narrator says, "The surface entrance into Lucky Friday extends straight down into the earth at 6,200 feet. It's equivalent to four and a quarter Empire State buildings."

That's just one example of the maze that is Lucky Friday. Once at the bottom of the mine, it branches out into a series of horizontal tunnels or "drifts". Each of the drifts extends out one mile and there are 20 miles of tunnels in all. At the end of each drift are even smaller tunnels called stopes. It's at the end of one of stope 15 that Hecla believes Marek is trapped.

As of Thursday night, it was unclear if Marek had any communications equipment at the time of the accident. Hennessey said it was likely he carried water, his lunch pail and protective equipment. He might also have air and water through the hoses attached to his hydraulic drill that miners often use.

UPDATE FROM THE HECLA MINING COMPANY: Rescue efforts continue and the crew has advanced a total of 101 feet in the 220-foot drift north of the 15 stope. Crews have been working on this drift since April 18th. We have not started the 182-foot drift in order to prevent interference with stability monitoring in the 15 stope. The drifting procedure is a standard
mining method which involves blasting the rock with a jumbo drill, removing the
material with muckers to a muck bay, and supporting the newly exposed ground.

2. The third drill hole has advanced a total of 155 feet and is in close proximity to the first 180-foot drill hole which was completed on April 19th These additional drill holes will help us gather new information on the size of the void found close to the face of the 15 stope. We anticipate that we will continue to drill additional holes in order to gather information and better understand the open area.

3. A 46-foot hole drilled through the rubble pile in the 15 stope was completed on April 19th and pierced a void which is believed to be close to the location of the final mined face. This drill hole is allowing crews to gather additional information on the fall of rock and voids in the stope, but is not a conduit for transfer of materials.

4. The two completed drill holes have allowed us to introduce fresh air into the stope. We continue to survey the drill core (rock material) and gather resources such as cameras to be utilized in the 2-inch diameter drill hole referenced in point #2 to help us determine the location, size of the void area, and conditions inside the stope.

5. The Company will provide the next update on progress made with our rescue effort on April 22nd at approximately 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

UPDATE: Crews have progressed 90 feet in the rescue drift that is being advanced to reach the missing miner. Fresh air and water continue to be pumped to the area where the fall occurred. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis sent a message to the family of the missing miner saying that she is keeping them in her thoughts and prayers.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Rescue workers are considering drilling a second tunnel as part of their efforts to reach a silver miner who has been trapped in the Lucky Friday Mine since a tunnel collapsed last Friday.

The Idaho-based Hecla Mining company is drilling through a 220-foot rock wall in hopes of reaching Larry "Pete" Marek. So far, the company has made it about 71 feet into the rock. But
company officials said Thursday that they were considering trying to reach Marek from another angle as well, drilling into a 182-foot rock wall.

Workers first tried to rescue Marek by clearing the debris from the collapsed area, but unstable conditions forced them to abandon the effort when they were just 35 feet away from the open space where they hope Marek is waiting.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

KHQ.COM -  Rescuers moved 30 feet closer to the place where they believe an Idaho silver miner is trapped more than a mile underground, but they have not established contact with the
man.

Hecla Mining Co. said they continue to drill through a 220-foot wall of rock in an effort to reach Larry "Pete" Marek, who was trapped in a cave-in on Friday about 6,100 feet below the surface
in the Lucky Friday Mine.

Rescuers still had about 166 feet to go Wednesday afternoon to reach the area where they believe Marek is trapped.

A camera was sent through an 180-foot-long drill hole in an open space behind the cave-in, but so far has found no sign of the miner.

HECLA MINING COMPANY: We are excavating a 220 foot drift north of the 15 stope and have advanced an additional 30 feet for a total of 54 feet since the evening of April 18th. In addition,
we are considering developing a second 182 foot drift north east of the 15 stope, which would begin excavation upon plan approval and completion of proper site preparation. The drifting procedure is a standard mining method which involves blasting the rock with a jumbo drill, removing the material with muckers to a muck bay, and supporting the newly exposed ground.

2. Efforts continue to gather information from the diamond drill hole located north on
the same underground level as the 15 stope. The drill hole, which is 180 feet in length, was completed on April 19th. A borehole camera put into this hole has enabled us to verify that there is a void within the area, although we cannot at this time estimate the size or extent of the void.


3. In addition, a 46-foot drill hole was completed, through the rubble pile in the 15
stope, into an area that is estimated to be close to the location of the final mined
face. This drill hole provides additional information on voids in the stope. The
combination of the two drill holes has allowed us to introduce fresh air into the
void.


4. A third drill hole was initiated today in close proximity to the 180 foot drill hole
which we hope will provide us with additional information on the size of the void
close to the face of the 15 stope. We anticipate that we will continue to drill
additional holes in order to gather information and have a better understanding of
the open area.


5. The Company will provide the next update on progress made with our rescue
effort on April 21st at approximately 7:00am.
A sketch of the location of the incident and the nature of work we are doing is
posted on the homepage of our website at www.hecla-mining.com.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

KHQ.COM - Officials at an Idaho silver miner say there is a space behind the tons of rock and debris that collapsed four days ago and trapped a miner more than a mile underground.

A statement from Hecla Mining Co. on Tuesday night says workers completed a 180-foot-long drill hole from an adjacent tunnel. A borehole camera confirms there is a void in the area where
53-year-old Larry "Pete" Marek was working, but they can't tell how big it is.

Workers also bored a 46-foot-long hole through the rubble pile in the tunnel and say the two holes are allowing fresh air to enter the void.

Rescuers had been trying to dig through the rubble to reach Marek but dangerous conditions have forced them to shift to a new route that is more than five times as long.
   

UPDATE: TUESDAY APRIL 19, 2011 10:45 PM

1. As we advanced in the 15 stope we encountered conditions that prevented the
rescue teams from safely installing timber supports and removing rock and debris
blocking the stope. While additional planning is being done to determine how we
could safely continue accessing the area through the 15 stope by utilizing timber
support and material removal, we have initiated work on alternative plans.
2. We have begun excavating a 220 foot drift north of the 15 stope and have
advanced 24 feet in the last 24 hours. In addition, we are planning to develop a
second 182 foot drift north east of the 15 stope, which would begin excavation
upon plan approval and completion of proper site preparation. The drifting
procedure is a standard mining method which involves blasting the rock with a
jumbo drill, removing the material with muckers to a muck bay, and supporting
the newly exposed ground.
3. A diamond drill was mobilized on April 18 to a location to the north on the same
underground level as the 15 stope. We have completed the drill hole, which was
180 feet in length. A borehole camera put into this hole has enabled us to verify
that there is a void within the area, although we cannot at this time estimate the
size or extent of the void.
4. In addition, a 46 foot drill hole was completed, through the rubble pile in stope 15,
into an area that is estimated to be close to the location of the final mined face.
This drill hole provides additional information on voids in the stope. The
combination of the two drill holes has allowed us to introduce fresh air into the
void.
A sketch of the location of the incident and the nature of work we are doing is
posted on the homepage of our website at www.hecla-mining.com.
Background Information
1. We sympathize with the family, friends and employees of the Lucky Friday during
this difficult time. We are 100% focused on the rescue efforts.
2. The Lucky Friday mine has been in operation for 69 years. It's a deep
underground silver, lead and zinc mine located in the Coeur d'Alene Mining
District in northern Idaho. We currently have 275 employees and approximately
100 contractors.
2
3. A localized fall of ground occurred on April 15 at approximately 5:30 pm in a
section of the underground mine at 6150 feet below surface on a vein that is
2200 feet long. The 15 stope which is one of the mining areas along that vein is
152 feet long. The fall of ground is approximately 75 feet from the entrance of the
15 stope. We do not know the length of the fall of ground. The ground that fell is
up to 25 feet high and 20 feet wide.
4. Two Hecla employees were working in the area where the fall of ground
occurred. One employee is safe and we have not had communication with the
other, who is Larry Marek, 53 years old with over 30 years experience in the
mining industry. Larry has been working for the Company for 12 years.
5. Our employees' safety and that of the rescue teams is a top priority for us.
Rescue efforts for Larry continue.
6. We are calling on all available resources and currently have sufficient materials
and equipment needed on-site to safely implement rescue efforts.
7. The Company is working extraordinarily hard to reach Larry and will continue
making every effort as long as it takes, using safe methods in the process in
order to avoid risk to the rescue teams.
8. Rescue crews are working 24 hours a day in two 12-hour shifts. Updated
information on rescue efforts is only provided at the end of every shift in order not
to impede rescue efforts.
9. While our primary concern is Larry, the Company is also very concerned for his
family, loved ones and for his co-workers. We are in communication with the
family and have been keeping them up-to-date. Our thoughts and prayers are
with the family and friends. The Company has also made available professional
support and emotional counseling for the family and employees.
10. Our current focus is 100% directed to rescuing the miner and ensuring the safety
of the rescue team. We will investigate the causes after rescue efforts are
complete.
11. The Lucky Friday mine is in full rescue operation, and is not presently engaged in
mining operations.
12. Communications are being coordinated with all relevant authorities, including
local, state, regional and federal officials and emergency service organizations.
MSHA is on site.
13. We deeply sympathize with the family, employees and overall situation and are
doing all that is possible to progress with rescue operations in a safe and
expedited manner.
14. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones. At the request of
Larry's family and friends, we would ask that you respect their privacy. The
Company appreciates everyone's understanding and support.
3
15. Additional information including video footage with Mr. Baker providing an update
on the rescue efforts at Lucky Friday mine and sketches of the underground
location and nature of the work we are doing can be found on the homepage of
our website at www.hecla-mining.com.

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